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Formula One comes (back) to the US
November 16, 2012 12:35 PM   Subscribe

After a 5 year absence, construction delays, and rumors of cancellation, Formula 1 is back to a permanent home in Austin, Texas this weekend.

Circuit of the Americas is a brand new, purpose built track that was just dirt only one year ago.

NYT: Bringing an F1 Vibe to a Counterculture City

NBC: Is Sunday's F1 Race Weird Enough for Austin, Texas:
In this environmentally-conscious college town of 800,000, where the bumper stickers say "Keep Austin Weird" and there are no professional sports teams, there is widespread opposition to the Formula One race..
..Some skeptics have come around, embracing the race and the sleek parties that come with it, while others are still shaking their heads over fears of clogged streets, noisy helicopter traffic and a negative impact on the environment, all for a ritzy event they say is simply un-Austin..


Holy Shit The Austin F1 Grand Prix Is Really Happening:
Could it really be? F1 in America? In Texas? After all the drama, the lawsuits, the work stoppages, the traffic. Are there really funny little foreign men in funny little cars racing around Elroy, Texas?

Watch David Coulthard of RedBull simulate a lap

A walking lap of the track
posted by ninjew (68 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I watched both practice sessions today and have to say I really like the track, especially that front stretch hill-climb. Looking forward to the race Sunday.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:40 PM on November 16, 2012


Turn 1 (front stretch hill-climb hairpin) looks like the automotive equivalent of a half-pipe. I think the first lap is going to be epic.
posted by the painkiller at 12:42 PM on November 16, 2012


No fights or intentional wrecking? Boring.

The traffic situation looks like it good be a big problem, if it ends up like this it could be a debacle.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:44 PM on November 16, 2012


I love David Coulthard. He was a bit of a crap driver, but he's really found his stride as a commentator.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:45 PM on November 16, 2012


Considering making the event next year, but only if ticket prices come down a bit. A lot actually. (Turn Two lowers at Suzuka, comparable to Turn One lowers at COTA, were priced at ~$450 for the 2010 Japanese GP. At COTA? $748.00).

Still, looking forward to the weekend.
posted by notyou at 12:47 PM on November 16, 2012


Same here, Thorzdad -- I normally don't like Tilke's tracks (as a spectator -- although they look like a blast to drive). This one might actually be interesting given the Pirelli situation.

As is par for F1, the ludicrously lavish and pointlessly "high-brow" nonsense is in full effect.
posted by spiderskull at 12:48 PM on November 16, 2012


And we have a fourth weekend in which I lock my doors and do not emerge. The traffic predictions are rather apocalyptic, and the numbers I'm hearing - over a hundred thousand tourists in a city of around a million - suggest they may not be too far off. I do not love major tourist events here, especially given the infrastructure, which is basically inadequate for the city size as it is.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:48 PM on November 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


notyou: "(Turn Two lowers at Suzuka, comparable to Turn One lowers at COTA, were priced at ~$450 for the 2010 Japanese GP. At COTA? $748.00)."

Holy crap, that's a lot of money. Ecclestone knows how to milk cash from his fans.
posted by spiderskull at 12:49 PM on November 16, 2012


Oh. And fully expect traffic to be a debacle. But that's not uncommon for F1.
posted by notyou at 12:50 PM on November 16, 2012


That is for the entire weekend, spiderskull. But, yeah. Not inexpensive.
posted by notyou at 12:53 PM on November 16, 2012


EA Games working overtime.
posted by Mblue at 12:53 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I live just off the intersection of I-35 and 71 (which is the road out to the airport & F1). Traffic is was already miserable based on diversions last night. I wish I'd been able to get out of town this weekend and am glad we'll be in San Antonio tomorrow.
posted by immlass at 12:54 PM on November 16, 2012


A pretty cool F1 v NASCAR infographic courtesy of Red Bull.
"The world's second most popular sport after 'soccer,'" contains right-hand turns, etc.
posted by obscurator at 12:56 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the best lap I have seen so far.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:03 PM on November 16, 2012


Oh. And fully expect traffic to be a debacle. But that's not uncommon for F1.

Yep. Always. But this is the first weekend for ANY race event of any consequence on that road infrastructure so they'll work it out. I imagine next year will be much better, but there will inevitably be the "THIS IS UNPOSSIBLE!!!!!!" complaining. Year three should be sorted, but to be honest it's ONE WEEK of drama a year, which isn't enormously bad considering how much money it will bring in. I think the main issue has been (as well as the time constraints) that the non-'track invested' planners (ie the city) can't quite get their head around just how much the road structure will need to be changed, but I predict they will get over it right quick after this weekend.

Lots of places were terrible for traffic - Silverstone had a two lane access road for 60% of the traffic for years that they tried to turn into a massive and shitty one way system but now has a shiny bypass and much better access and and is now pretty good. Once they get flow sorted out it will be fine - there's plenty of space for better infrastructure, which is something a lot of places don't have.

This will be a particularly good weekend, I think. The track looks good and a completely fresh track (ie no racing of any kind on it before) is always a challenge for set up as it changes enormously as it cures and matures with the loading and rubber from fast cars driving on it. Should be an interesting race.
posted by Brockles at 1:05 PM on November 16, 2012


Counting my lucky stars I live far enough out to not get hit with the traffic and my plans for the weekend are sleeping, the grocery store, and catching Skyfall at my nearest Drafthouse.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:07 PM on November 16, 2012


I've never been to Austin. How is the traffic at this race expected to compare to that for a Longhorns game?
posted by plastic_animals at 1:15 PM on November 16, 2012


Ooh can't wait to watch this (on TV alas not in person)! There's even some excitement in the title race between Alonso and Vettel to look forward to.
posted by dabug at 1:19 PM on November 16, 2012


My Dad has a ticket stub from watching the Grand Prix at Watkins Glen from October 3, 1965. A general admission ticket was a whopping $6.00. That price is equivalent to about $43 in today's dollars. A three day general admission ticket is about $160, so not too much of a difference in price for watching the Grand Prix in Austin in 2012.
posted by backwords at 1:20 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


OB killjoy moment: I think it's one of the stupidest things Austin's ever done and will be extremely glad when it's over.
posted by batmonkey at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I recall correctly, the tickets for F1 when it was in Indy were a lot cheaper than this Austin race. It had to be if I actually went to a couple of them.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:25 PM on November 16, 2012


obscurator's info graphic from Red Bull puzzles me. The pit stop times this year in F1 have been hitting times under 3 seconds. McLaren did a 2.3 second 4 tire change.
posted by 13twelve at 1:31 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ghostride The Whip - Skyfall being another British export (or at least European) (though the vast majority of the teams, design and engineering is carried out in the UK).
posted by 13twelve at 1:33 PM on November 16, 2012


The pit stop times this year in F1 have been hitting times under 3 seconds.

Yeah, those are the old times for when they are refuelling as well. Bit of a cock up on Red Bull's part there.
posted by Brockles at 1:35 PM on November 16, 2012


Obligatory Red Bull Video of the dirt track.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:45 PM on November 16, 2012


The other day, a babysitter asked my almost-two-year-old to tell her what sound a car makes. He held up his hands like he was holding a steering wheel and started screaming at the top of his lungs "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

I was so proud.
posted by The World Famous at 1:53 PM on November 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


The pit stop times this year in F1 have been hitting times under 3 seconds.

It's easy when you have enough people. IndyCar and NASCAR limit the number of people over the wall -- IIRC, it's six in IndyCar, and six for NASCAR, rising to 7 in the second half the race. The usual roles are Jack (lifts/lowers the car), two Tire Changers (unlocks, swaps and locks tires), Gas (fuels the car), and two tire carriers (moves the new tires out, and the old tires off the track.) The 7th man in NASCAR is the utility guy, he cleans windshields, provides drinks to the driver, and other such, but can't work on the car.

Worse, the NASCAR jack only lifts one side of the car, so the jackman needs to move the jack around the car. In IndyCar, there's a built in lift system, the jackman just connects an air hose to it, then does what work the utility guy does. Because of rules about running over airhoses, Indy has everyone but the rear tire changer in place before the car arrives, he moves out when the car stops.

Even worse, NASCAR uses 5 lug nuts. Indy uses one central locking nut. Being a tire changer on a NASCAR require a high degree of skill -- you have to get five off, get the tire off and rolling to the carrier, get the wheel into place and get all five nuts torqued down. Then you run around the end of the car and do it again.

F1? F1 has *four* tire changers, and *eight* tire carriers. When the car stops, at each wheel, the changer unlocks the wheel nut, and while one tire carrier pulls the tire away, another is positioning the new tire into place, which the changer then locks down.

F1 doesn't have the Indy built-in jack system, but they have two jackmen, one at each end of the car. F1 also has a starter man, starter in hand, in case the car stalls. In Indycar, the rear tire changer would be responsible for a restart, if needed. In NASCAR, you push the car to restart it, and everybody over the wall pushes -- and there have been occasions where other team's pit crew has helped push.

F1, which runs shorter distances than NASCAR and most IndyCar races, doesn't allow refueling, so no gas man. They do have a fireman in place over the wall with an extinguisher. NASCAR and Indy have them behind the wall.

So:
Indycar -- 6 people working on the car.
NASCAR -- 6 people working on the car, one helping the driver in the last half.
F1 - 14 people working on the car, plus the fireman (who monitors) and starter man (who normally does nothing.)

It's no wonder than F1 can swap all four tires in 3 seconds, where it takes 12+ seconds for the same, plus two cans of gas, to go into a NASCAR cup car. Usually, in both IndyCar and NASCAR, the wheel are changed and the car is on the ground before the fuel tank is filled, which leads to the decision to keep filling until full or to stop then and start driving.

The reason that F1 has so many is they want to be fast. The reason the NASCAR and IndyCar have so few is that we've had incidents with cars crashing into a pit stall loaded with people and causing a number of severe injuries and deaths, so now crews go over the wall in full fire suits and the number of people over the wall is limited by rule.

This is also why there is a pit-lane speed limit in all three series -- to limit the amount of KE that the car can throw around if it all goes wrong, and why pit lane entrances and exits have been moved so that a car crashing at track speed can't enter the pit. This also got rid of one of the most infamous features at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the "spike" that was the end of the pit wall, which was trivial to hit when coming into the pits fast.
posted by eriko at 1:53 PM on November 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


F1? F1 has *four* tire changers, and *eight* tire carriers...

Indycar also has four tire-changers (not two). And the tires are already laid-out on the pit lane with the changers in-position at all four corners with the air guns. The other people allowed over the wall is the fueler and the guy who plugs-in the pneumatic line to activate the air jacks.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:58 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indycar also has four tire-changers (not two).

Gotcha, they replace NASCAR's tire carriers with changers, and just leave the tires down.

The other people allowed over the wall is the fueler and the guy who plugs-in the pneumatic line to activate the air jacks.

This also, btw, is the vent hose for the fuel system.
posted by eriko at 2:03 PM on November 16, 2012


How is the traffic at this race expected to compare to that for a Longhorns game?

I've been living in Austin for four years next weekend and I've never seen the kind of advance traffic for a Longhorns game that I have for F1.
posted by immlass at 2:38 PM on November 16, 2012


This also, btw, is the vent hose for the fuel system.

Care to clarify? That's either wrong or badly put. The entire air jack system is completely separate from the fuelling system and is a highly pressurised air system. The fuel vent is back up the hose assembly last time I saw an Indycar pit stop equipment. I think it'd be illegal to combine them. It'd also be way too small for fuel vent volume (usually a 3/8 ID air line) and is pressurised the entire time the car is in the air, so won't vent anything.

Also: There is no 'wall' in F1 as there is in Indy and NASCAR so no limits to how many you can have over. NASCAR and Indy would have 15 people on a stop if they were allowed to, that's for sure. With a wall there are often regulations as to how many people total can be used and also how many can be in position in pit lane until the car is either within your pit box or stationary. In F1 there are no such regulations. You can stand out there ready all day if you want. In F1 and similar regulations, when you place your pit crew into pit lane is very much a game of strategy as well - if you do it right, you can fool an opposing team into stopping early to react to something that you then don't do. You can have the mechanics rush out and set up to see if the opponent will try and pit ahead of you (to get clear track on the new tyres), then wander back into the garage for two laps safe in the knowledge your guy is in clear air to make time up for his stop.

The reason that F1 has so many is they want to be fast

Also design. A million times over. There is a LOT of time and money that goes into pit stops in F1 and a lot of it trickles down to the lower formula (of which Indy is one). It's pretty hard to screw up an F1 stop with a bit of practice for muscle memory and basic fitness.

I've been part of pit stop teams for various formulae from F3000 (GP2 as is now) down to entry level Formula cars and across to ARCA (same as NASCAR but cheaper) and some sportscar/prototype long distance racing stops. I absolutely LOVE pit stops. Most fun of the whole weekend as far as I am concerned. When I was in F3000 in Italy the mechanics on the second car (who did the rear half of the stop for both cars) were ex-Minardi F1 guys and they had there planning and techniques DOWN. We were ballin' for an Italian F3000 team, despite having the lowest budget. 6 guys total: The two mechs from one car did a rear wheel each, I did outside front wheel (so I also did the 'lollipop' duties from there, calling the car in and controlling him leaving) and my No 2 mechanic did right front. Team Manager did front jack, truckie did the rear and it was a total blast. Pit lanes speed limits may even have been non-existent (or largely ignored, certainly) and the pit lanes were cramped and having cars whizz past your ankles at 70mph while you're throwing tyres from one hand to the next was just... the best fun. Never boring, that's for sure.

Anyway, back to the important bit:

F1 pit stops: Design, design, design + COST. The wheels guide themselves on, the nuts hold themselves in the socket, the locking mechanism is simple and foolproof and the wheels weigh next to nothing for a component that size. Special equipment is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars when you had fuel equipment, and tens of thousands even now. Wheel guns are around $1500-2000 each, front and rear jacks are purpose built and even have little hydraulic switches and widgets in them to shave fractions of a second off. The mechanics and other personnel do the pit stops and practice during the weekend and when away from the races. The effort is in not only making it fast, but also in making it as close to consistent as possible because the exact time of the pit stop is very, very important in strategy. You need to know exactly how long your car will take to slow into pit lane, travel the length of the speed limit zone, be serviced and leave again in order to make the right call for when you bring it in for maximum track position advantage.

NASCAR pit stops: By far the hardest physically and also the most archaic (surprise). The wheels are roughly 4-6 times as heavy as an F1 wheel and they have 5 nuts to do instead of 1, which also means you have to line up the wheel with the studs rather than just banging it on (the red lines you see on the NASCAR wheels are for that reason) They require a lot more manual dexterity than the rest of the styles, and a little bit of labour beforehand (cleaning the nuts and glueing them into place on the new wheels, the old nuts are not replaced during the stop). Special equipment costs is around $1000 in a jack (it's essentially just a light version of a standard workshop floor jack with the ratio of pump action changed), maybe $1000 total in wheel guns and a few hundred bucks in fuel cans. It is HARD AS HELL to get the jack under the car and lifted with the accuracy and speed those guys do it. They have dedicated and separately trained crews (usually college athletes) that are flown in specifically for the pit stops as it is impossible to find the time to get the physical fitness of the mechanics up to the required level because they don't have enough free time. I was told by the coach at Roush (ex cop, oddly) for pit crews when we were there that it is loads easier to train athletes to do pit stops than it is to keep busy mechanics fit enough and fresh enough to do the stops themselves. I have no trouble believing it. I did behind the wall back up for a couple of races and those guys are bad ass. Way stronger and faster than I ever have been. I tried a few practice stops and got my arse handed to me. I was fast enough on the wheel gun with a bit of practice, but the wheels are SO DAMN HEAVY that throwing them around so often and with such accuracy is pretty bloody hard.

So, in that regard, you can't really compare them. NASCAR stops are clunky and archaic and shitty in terms of design and efficiency, but impressive as all hell and back physically. F1 are, much like the sport, the pinnacle of design, manufacture and efficiency.
posted by Brockles at 2:49 PM on November 16, 2012 [24 favorites]


Why yes, I do have some work to do that I am trying to avoid, why do you ask?

I've never seen the kind of advance traffic for a Longhorns game that I have for F1.

Isn't a Longhorns game about 4-6 hours long or something? A professional race event is 5-6 days long at least. Cars have been on track since Wednesday I think (support races usually are) and teams will have been working since Monday.
posted by Brockles at 2:52 PM on November 16, 2012


Great stuff, Brockles.

Re: The NASCAR pitstop...You left out the truly archaic, and not a little dangerous, method of refueling in NASCAR. Gas cans. I get that NASCAR has this thing for its past and all but...gas cans?

Can you imagine F1 hanging on to old refueling methods of the 30's and 50's of sticking a funnel into the open gas cap and pouring buckets of gasoline in? That's what I flash on every time I see a NASCAR pitstop. At least they finally moved-on to fuel injection...
posted by Thorzdad at 2:59 PM on November 16, 2012


Hey Brockles, what to F1 pit teams do besides pit stops? Are they the cars mechanics too? Or is there a whole separate team somewhere off camera as their weekends work is essentially done by the time the race starts?
posted by Keith Talent at 3:02 PM on November 16, 2012


Most of the traffic for a Longhorns game is local. I live about 2 miles from Royal stadium, & it's bad for a couple hours before the am, & about an hour after the game.

I live nowhere near the track, and traffic all over Austin has been absolutely insufferable since Tuesday. I do not know what the deal is, but apparently 100,000 people are hitting town for this event? On the way home from work today, I had a Suburban drive head-on into my lane, causing me to swerve into the bike lane, then the driver laughed as he swerved back on to his side of the road. I got tailgated thereafter by a Porche Cayenne for a few blocks, who almost rear-ended me at a red light - he swerved into another lane at the last moment, and another car alongside me blithely wandered into my lane while I was using it about 45 seconds later. Everyone is going goddam nuts out there, like the race is happening on our streets. I fucking hate this business, and would like our 25 million back.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:05 PM on November 16, 2012


Cars have been on track since Wednesday I think

That would explain general traffic shittiness (and special shittiness where I live yesterday and probably through the weekend and Monday). I generally welcome visitors and tourist dollars, but this is the second biggest boondoggle in town after SH 130. It can't be over too soon.
posted by immlass at 3:11 PM on November 16, 2012


I do not know what the deal is, but apparently 100,000 people are hitting town for this event?

200,000 spectators. Plus all the teams, plus support staff, event staff, vendors, media, etc. For an event where the actual event itself lasts for several days, all day everyday. If you want to compare it to football, it would be like if ten NFL teams each played two games per day for four days in one place and all their fans traveled across the country to see it as if each game was the Super Bowl.
posted by The World Famous at 3:13 PM on November 16, 2012


Yeah I had heard 300,000 total people in town for it but didn't have a source. For perspective, that is fully a third of the normal population of Austin. And we have some of the worst traffic in the country to begin with.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:18 PM on November 16, 2012


I'm skeptical. If F1 is such a great investment, why hasn't some other city jumped into it with both feet and $25 million? I'm afraid we're being screwed. I hope I'll be proven wrong. And yeah, the traffic is horrible 15 miles away on roads with no connection to the event.
posted by Daddy-O at 3:20 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate to think what will happen if Grosjean's starting position funnels him into the inside of that first turn.
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:23 PM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, I'm heading for San Antonio tomorrow AM. If they ever do this thing here again, I'm gone for the week.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:24 PM on November 16, 2012


I still think the only way they could get me to watch F1 is if they buried landmines with random time fuzes under the track.
posted by scruss at 3:28 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm skeptical. If F1 is such a great investment, why hasn't some other city jumped into it with both feet and $25 million?

As you should be. The "Bernie" fees for hosting an F1 event are eye-poppingly huge. Add-in the cost of building a track from scratch, and it's doubtful that the race organizers are going to see any profit for several years. If ever.

What helps is hosting an F1 race some place people might actually want to go. Like...Monte Carlo! I think this little fact is one of the things that eventually killed F1 in Indy (that, and a crappy layout). I mean...who really wants to come to Indianapolis? Austin, otoh, has a certain...unique...personality, that is actually appealing. In any case, I really hope the race takes-off and finds a home, finally.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:29 PM on November 16, 2012


what to F1 pit teams do besides pit stops

The pit crew will consist of the mechanics from both cars (so maybe 5 or 6 per car) and truckies (2-4 of them) and other mechanical or infrastructure people. They are not a dedicated crew at all, but the people who keep the cars and team running the rest of the time (unlike NASCAR where the pit crew ONLY do pit stops).

I get that NASCAR has this thing for its past and all but...gas cans?

They have spring loaded valves on them, same as most motorsport that refuels. They just use cans rather than hoses. They're not open vessel refuelling.
posted by Brockles at 3:44 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently the Westboro group is there to set us all "straight". I wonder if they've protested "drag" racing.

The circuit looks nice. After years of hearing constant and lazy criticism of Tilke circuits being terrible even though most of the drivers quite like them (Instanbul and Malaysia in particlar), a lot of Americans seem to think this circuit is a masterpiece. It's definitely far better than Indianapolis and looks to be quite a challenge, particularly since the tyres Pirelli brought might not be suitable, though the track may rubber in by the time of the race. I hope it's a good race.

The championship is on the line though I doubt it will be resolved this weekend. Vettel would have to finish 1st with Alonso 5th or worse. If Seb does win it though, he'll be the youngest triple world champion in F1 history. I had once thought Schumacher's record 7 championships would stand for quite some time but Seb and Red Bull could well match it, though it's still a long shot.
posted by juiceCake at 3:52 PM on November 16, 2012


They have spring loaded valves on them, same as most motorsport that refuels. They just use cans rather than hoses. They're not open vessel refuelling.

True, but the fuel-cell systems in NASCAR don't vent safely back into the delivery line, either. It vents out the back of
the car, where the catch-can guy is supposed to catch the run-off. It's a very kludgy system, that results in a bunch of fuel spilled on each stop.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:55 PM on November 16, 2012


It vents out the back of the car, where the catch-can guy is supposed to catch the run-off.

Not any more, that's been gone for two seasons. The fuel system is closed and the can is self venting (ie the tank vents back into the can, which is open to atmosphere through a long tube):

http://www.nascar.com/news/110203/new-fueling-system-problems/index.html
posted by Brockles at 4:20 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


> the cost of building a track from scratch

And not just any track- larger run out areas, special surfacing, fancy compartmentalized security and you can't use it for any & all comers like a Laguna Seca or Sears Point to help with the cost.

What made my jaw drop was the rule that the press suites have to be kept in a small range around a given temperature, even with giant windows facing the track, even in Abu Dhabi.
posted by morganw at 4:37 PM on November 16, 2012


And we have a fourth weekend in which I lock my doors and do not emerge. The traffic predictions are rather apocalyptic, and the numbers I'm hearing - over a hundred thousand tourists in a city of around a million - suggest they may not be too far off. I do not love major tourist events here, especially given the infrastructure, which is basically inadequate for the city size as it is.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:48 PM on November 16


I'm just out of the van -- helped a buddy set up his booth at the SAMI show in Round Rock then drove back into central Austin, did not seem more backed up than a usual Friday evening. We got on the toll road right off then dumped out onto MOPAC, I think that being MOPAC rather than I-35 helped; there was NO WAY we were gonna stay on 35. I think it took us right at an hour, give or take five minutes either way, or ten. We did get nailed a bit coming through downtown, everything being closed off slowed us some but not terribly. Not this early; hate to try it later tonight though.

So far, this weekend's traffic has not been *as bad* in my neighborhood as ACL SXSW and/or who knows whichever other weekend festival or party is here; there are huge stretches where trying to get into or out of my condo is a total nightmare -- I'm dead between I-35 and Congress, on any number of concert and/or festival days the traffic is solid and stopped. I spend a lot of time on the bicycle, for sure. I got nailed in that two day party two weeks ago, I didn't even know it was happening til I got caught up in the traffic. Sucked.

I don't much care about the race one way or another, other than the sway it has over going to the grocery store or whatever. I do not think that the people are Austin people, I absolutely do not see it as an Austiin type of event, I find it ridiculously annoying that the city has spent even a dime on it. They've built temporary heliports around town -- WTF? These people have *way* more money than they need, I pretty much hope their legs grow together, and I also know that no matter what I think the show is going to go on.

On the other hand, people in Travis Heights are renting their houses out for four grand a night. That's sixteen grand or twenty, in a weekend, though a bit long weekend. You can rent out almost anything this weekend, pick up some extra cash if you want to -- my condo assn is starting to get fussy about it but I know that some neighbors are still cashing in on it, raking it in.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:09 PM on November 16, 2012


you can't use it for any & all comers like a Laguna Seca or Sears Point to help with the cost.

Cite please? I know a lot of non-F1 events that are planned for Austin over the next and if you don't set up additional events (including driving schools at the track and making it full time active) the place will not survive, let alone make money.
posted by Brockles at 6:33 PM on November 16, 2012


I have friends at the circuit now, posting photos on FB, corporate entertainment with clients. Very jealous and will be watching this weekend. Hope it gels as we could do with F1 gaining traction in the US.
posted by arcticseal at 7:33 PM on November 16, 2012


They've built temporary heliports around town

It's midnight Friday here in beautiful Austin and I can hear a parade of helicopters going by overhead, from by the airport/track toward downtown. One goes by, loudly, the sound drops off, and then another goes by, about a half-dozen so far. I rarely have the "these people need to get the hell out of my town" reaction to tourists, but the more helicopters I hear, the more annoyed I am. I'm glad I'm farting around on Metafilter and not trying to sleep.
posted by immlass at 10:14 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It'll be over soon, immlass. Sorry your town sucks for a few days.

Meanwhile, watching P2 on DVR, and it is awesome. Turn one is incredible, the long camera shot suggesting Eau Rouge. The phony Suzuka Esses after into that sneaky hairpin are devious. Then the easy fast section (hairpin exit is critical), followed by a couple tricky double apexes, more esses, then back to the start finish.

Sunday should be interesting.
posted by notyou at 11:02 PM on November 16, 2012


you can't use it for any & all comers like a Laguna Seca or Sears Point to help with the cost.

The Moto GP races from 2013 to 2022 will help with cost will they not?
They are also trying to arrange Grand Am, American LeMans, WEC, and other events, as well as a driving school on site, special services training, etc.

It looks pretty well planned for future use and for generating revenue.
posted by juiceCake at 11:55 PM on November 16, 2012


It's been a great F1 season. Can't wait for this race.
posted by vicx at 2:13 AM on November 17, 2012


For the first time in over five years I can say that I wish I still lived in Texas.

I loves me some F1.
posted by biscotti at 5:28 AM on November 17, 2012


If you call the city of Austin's 311 (Non-Emergency Police and City contact number) the first thing you hear is "If you are calling to complain about F1, push 1."

Yeah, we were calling to complain.
The first shuttle helicopter flew over my house at 6:30 and it hasn't stopped yet.
( I also had a 20-25 minute commute turn into a 1.75 hour commuting debacle, averaging 5 miles per hour. During a non-peak traffic time. But that is nolt directly the city's fault like the damn helicopters.)

Anyway, my neighborhood is one of the driving forces behind the helicopter complaints.
posted by Seamus at 6:56 AM on November 17, 2012


I have to get across town to Callahan's for a game sausage making class and I have no idea how much time I should set aside for this ~20 minute ride. My neighbors' apocalyptic pronouncements make me think I may need to leave by noon to get to the 3:00 class.

Living in a neighborhood that is shut down and blocked off for ACL, Trail of Lights, Blues on the Green and every other time the city decides to use Zilker for a huge event, I am torn between commiserating with everyone else in this city and throwing up the middle finger and screamin' "See how it feels, fuckers?!"
posted by Seamus at 7:37 AM on November 17, 2012


Big F1 fan here. I'm glad it's made it back to these shores.
posted by ob at 7:52 AM on November 17, 2012


Brockles: "In F1 there are no such regulations. You can stand out there ready all day if you want."

I don't think that is allowed any more. “23.11 Team personnel are only allowed in the pit lane immediately before they are required to work on a car and must withdraw as soon as the work is complete.”
posted by Auz at 8:09 AM on November 17, 2012


Arrgh. TSN showing CFL when the race is on. Anyone know where I can watch it online in Canada?
posted by arcticseal at 8:28 AM on November 17, 2012


There is some sort of stream over on speedtv.com: stream.speedtv.com/mercedes.
posted by dominik at 8:34 AM on November 17, 2012


Yeah, we were calling to complain.
The first shuttle helicopter flew over my house at 6:30 and it hasn't stopped yet.
( I also had a 20-25 minute commute turn into a 1.75 hour commuting debacle, averaging 5 miles per hour. During a non-peak traffic time. But that is nolt directly the city's fault like the damn helicopters.)


But imagine how much worse your commute would've been without all those helicopters to take people off the roads. ;-)
posted by gyc at 9:28 AM on November 17, 2012


The ratio of douchebags to non- in this town has skyrocketed. The Eurotrash petitioned the Army Corps of Engineers to allow them to helicopter their yachts onto Ladybird Lake.

This town used to be cool. Now? Fuck this, it's worse than Dallas and Houston combined. Time to go.
posted by nushustu at 10:02 AM on November 17, 2012


Time to go.

The only thing stopping us besides money is distention as to where. I'd be happy enough in Fort Davis, but the wife wants to range further afield, like as far as we can get in the contiguous 50. I've about had it, too.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:30 AM on November 17, 2012


I live in the far south end of Austin and work about 3 miles from COTA. I'm not sure I see what the fuss is about. My drive to work usually takes me about 30 minutes. Today it took me... about 30 minutes (getting to the office at 10:00). The traffic in the immediate area is pretty manageable, best as I can tell. Downtown might be a different story, I don't know. My wife works on the UT campus and her afternoon commute yesterday was about 15-20 minutes longer than usual.

I don't really care one way or the other about auto racing, but it looks to me like they did about as good a job of planning this as they could have for the first time through. I kind of think that the publicity around this has kept a lot of other traffic off the roads, kind of like what happened in Los Angeles during the "Carmageddon" things.

And anyone who wants to leave Austin? Sorry to hear that, but nobody's stopping you. I think this is still a freakin' awesome place to live, and occasional inconveniences are part of the deal in big, active cities.
posted by zoog at 2:30 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fuck this, it's worse than Dallas and Houston combined

I'm a native Houstonian and the Houston hate generally tends to stick in my craw. But this F1 thing has the try-hard bootlicking attitude that I sometimes hated about my hometown. We are what we are. Stop sucking up to the one-percenter one-weekend tourists.

Amusing to me: apparently we ran out of escargot here. (Source is an Austin 360 writer, for locals.)
posted by immlass at 8:52 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Friday was a bit of a mess organizationally, but I suspect that COTA was just not prepared for the actual turnout which really was huge for a practice session day. They seemed to get things mostly ironed out by Sunday. Putting the shuttles on the opposite side of the course from the bleachers was insane since that forced the majority of attendees to arrive/depart from the opposite side of the course from their seats thus causing a massive traffic jam on the bridge and the shuttles.
One of the bus drivers said they almost doubled the number of busses on Sunday, going from about 300 to about 600. We waited in line for about an hour on Sunday to get on the bus, but that really wasn't any worse than some other large events I've attended. Traffic was not a problem for us on any day, going or coming (we were staying at a hotel just north of the University area).

It was an absolutely fabulous race. And Adam Cooper's tweet on Rick Perry meeting Christian Horner was just classic Perry: "Texas Governor Rick Perry went up to Christian Horner, looked at his shirt, and said 'Nice to meet you Pepe.' As in Pepe Jeans..."
posted by Runes at 12:29 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


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